Episode Ten: My Old Kentucky Home
Hosted by Dan Gediman. With Emily Bingham.
If you live in Kentucky, it is hard to avoid hearing the state song, My Old Kentucky Home. But it is a song with a lot of historical baggage relating to the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in Kentucky. Our guest, historian Emily Bingham, will help us unpack that baggage. She is the author of an upcoming book about the song, Singing About Slavery: “My Old Kentucky Home.” Episode Transcript
Emily Bingham is Visiting Honors Faculty Fellow at Bellarmine University. Her forthcoming work, Singing About Slavery: “My Old Kentucky Home” (Knopf) details the long history of Pittsburgh composer Stephen Foster’s 1853 blackface minstrel song.
Emily is Visiting Honors Faculty Fellow at Bellarmine University. Her forthcoming work, Singing About Slavery: “My Old Kentucky Home” (Knopf) details the long history of Pittsburgh composer Stephen Foster’s 1853 blackface minstrel song. The sentimental favorite has played annually since 1930 as the horses parade to the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby, “the fastest two minutes in sports.” Known across the globe, this sonic monument has been Kentucky’s official anthem for nearly a century. Bingham grew up with no idea that the song was about a slave sold down river from Kentucky to die in the Deep South. How and why she and almost everyone else “forgot” this basic truth, and how a song about slavery offered occasions for honor and celebration, trigger larger questions about Black pain white Americans have not heard. Singing About Slavery takes readers on a journey critical to understanding the nation’s past and its legacy for the present.
Bingham’s essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in Vogue, The Journal of Southern History, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and New England Review. Her books are Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham (2015), Mordecai: An Early American Family (2003), and, as editor with Thomas A. Underwood, The Southern Agrarians and the New Deal: Essays After I’ll Take My Stand (2001).
Learn more about slavery and its lasting effects in America by exploring the source materials referenced in The Reckoning. Our bibliography contains many items that are available to read or download for free. If you choose to purchase any of the books through the links provided, as an Amazon Associate, our non-profit organization Reckoning, Inc., earns commissions from qualifying purchases.
Emily Bingham’s book, Singing About Slavery: “My Old Kentucky Home” will be published in early 2022.
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